Saturday, April 23, 2011

Better Than Dreams

It’s a glorious morning here on Kauai. As the sun rises—spreading pink, yellow and gold across the baby blue sky—the neighborhood roosters greet the day with a hearty alooooHA! 
Over a rich cup of coffee, Dan and I discuss living our life with passion; through work that we love. Work that is so natural for us, it doesn’t seem like work. Hours fly by as we diligently create or learn about our individual crafts.
People are intrigued by my job as a food writer. I can hardly believe it myself. I get paid to go to restaurants, try the food and write about it! Dan gets to come with me and take pictures. Folks tell me, “Man! You have the best job! I would love to eat at restaurants and write about it!”
It is an amazing gift that came into my life because I was listening. I was listening for those soft, sometimes imperceptible whispers. Life calls. You know, those fleeting ideas that fill your heart with excitement, joy or inspiration? Those ideas that light up your mind.  The ones we dismiss as crazy, ridiculous or impossible. We forget about them. Kind of.
Folks have been telling Dan, “I’ve always liked to take pictures. It would be so cool if I could do it for a living!” Well, of course you can. Whatever you put energy into is going to grow. If you put energy into wanting to be a photographer, you will always want to be one. If you put energy into actually taking pictures, then you will become a photographer.
Neither Dan or I had dreams of becoming a writer or photographer. Ever. When we moved here we knew we wanted to be creative. We knew we wanted to be challenged and we knew we wanted to live interesting lives. That’s it! So we listened. Listened for those whispers and then acted on them. Most fell flat. Either because the time wasn’t right, or it just didn’t ring true deep inside. Slowly, as we became accustomed to island life, the avenues revealed themselves. 
We have a long way to go, and that is OK. We are polishing our skills. We are having fun learning, stretching, creating. We are infused with passion and excitement. With that as our fuel, we are bound to succeed. Maybe someday we will travel the world taking pictures and writing for Smithsonian and National Geographic. Maybe we will have an art gallery. Maybe I will write a book and a couple of people in Alaska will buy it. 
I have no idea how this is going to turn out. I do know it’s going to be a fantastic ride. I also know that I have no desire to plan my path. I do what’s in front of me, in this very moment. I do it to the best of my abilities, and then move on. I know that Life will create my dream and I will live it. I don’t want the responsibility because I can’t plan it as well. My imagination is too limited for what Life has in store. I never imagined I’d get a call asking me if I wanted to get paid for writing about food! If I was in charge, that call would not have come.
I did take the steps that created that call. I planted the seeds. I listened to a whisper that said, “Hey, send her an email. Tell her you want to write.” I made that email the best I could before I sent it off. And then I forgot about it. I started on the next thing. 
Dan and I have realized some things that we believe are keys to our success, our idea of success anyway. One, we created fertile soil to plant our seeds in. We got rid of everything that didn’t matter in our life’s picture. We got rid of all the trappings that made it necessary to earn a lot of money. We slowly got rid of the attitude that we had to make a lot of money. Don’t get me wrong, I hope to be making a lot of money again, but it will be different. 
We won’t be smothered in debt and things. If we don’t have the cash we won’t get it. We have found that we need very little. Most of the things we buy today are work related. This is extremely freeing because we don’t have to spend most of our time doing something we don’t enjoy. Something that takes away from who we want to be, in exchange for money. In exchange for stuff.
Because we have this freedom and we live in an amazingly beautiful place, we are inspired. Inspired to learn about writing or cameras, photography, photoshop, illustrator. We are amassing paint colors on our palette. Collecting resources to create work that will inspire ourselves. That inspiration will naturally inspire others. 
I have learned that every one of us has a unique voice. A voice someone else will want to witness.We all have life experiences that make us different. You may be a mother who enjoys capturing candid moments of her children. Maybe your friends enjoy seeing your pictures because they are touched by them. There are other mothers who want fantastic pictures of their kids. Sometimes right after they are born.
Listen to your inner voice—those whispers—and have confidence in yourself that you can create. That you will create. Create fertile soil for your dreams to blossom. Carefully tend that garden. Weed out negative thoughts. Fertilize with knowledge. Shine on the bright light of inspiration. Create space for growth and air to circulate. Water with tenderness and compassion. 
What are your whispers? Can you hear them? What do you do with them?

I am so excited to say Dan has started his own blog. In his words:

The Challenge: Capture one great photo every single day for a full year.

The Players: Myself. A Nikon D90. All the lenses I have, borrow, buy or rent; accessorized with an SB600 flash, a Manfrotto 055XPROB Pro Tripod, Manfrotto 496RC2 ball head and a Nodal Ninja NN5 panorama head.

The Location: The Garden Island of Kauai in the US state of Hawaii—and any place I visit throughout the year.

I realized that I was spending the vast majority of my time behind the camera shooting photos for work. Rarely have I found the time to just get out and get some shots for fun. Shots that are creative and artistic. Nothing scheduled or assigned. I have decided to do this challenge to get myself out there and get some photos! I really enjoy seeing the natural beauty that surrounds me, and striving to capture it in a single frame. Well, maybe not a single frame since I love taking panoramic photos. . .

Starting Monday April 25, 2011, I will set forth on my quest. I'm not sure what images I will capture, but whatever I happen to come across, I will post them here. This is quite a daunting challenge, but overwhelmingly exhilarating to think about. I am looking at everything in a slightly different way. Thoughts like, "What will that look like in the morning light?" or, "What is there to see around that bend in the road?" are running through my head at a mile a minute. 

Some days I may post all kinds of information about the photo. Time of day, location, camera settings and a host of other information. Some days I may just get the photo uploaded before I slink into bed. I would love your feedback. What are your thoughts on my photos? How do they affect you? This is an adventure of learning. Learning more about photography and my island home. So join me as I attempt to take a photo a day, every day for the next 365 days.